October 3, 2012
Central Bank of Kansas City, 2301 Independence Blvd., has been serving the area for 61 years and counting.
What sets Central Bank apart from others is its customer service, said Sarah Cousineau, Central Bank marketing and community outreach director.
“I think banking local is a popular idea and I think it helps not to be a large banking institution,” she said.
Central Bank employees know their customers by name and a number of employees checked on elderly customers over the summer to make sure they were staying cool, she said.
“You’re not going to find that at a larger bank,” Cousineau said.
As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Central Bank offers a majority of its services to low income and underserved communities. Only 90 banks in the U.S. hold that title, said bank president Bill Dana. Since 1998, Central Bank has held the CDFI designation, resulting in access to a number of programs, like the New Markets Tax Credit program that encourages businesses to move to distressed communities.
To further serve the community, Central Bank has partnered with Fair Community Credit to offer small dollar loans.
“Most banks don’t do small loans at all any more,” Cousineau said. “We think it’s a good way to help the public not get into the payday loan trap.”
The interest rate for payday loans averages more than 400 percent, “which just makes it impossible for somebody to get out from under all that debt,” she said.
Small dollar loans offer much lower interest rates and also give customers the opportunity to build and improve credit. Since January of 2012, Central Bank has approved 50 loans, averaging $1,000 each. The average loan duration is 24 months.
To find out if you qualify for a small dollar loan, contact Program Facilitator Marisa Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For customers wanting to save extra money for Christmas gifts, Central Bank offers Christmas Club, a separate savings account solely for Christmas shopping.
“It’s an old fashioned idea, but it’s a great way to save for Christmas all year long, so you don’t have to incur debt for Christmas,” she said.
Central Bank values the importance of financial education and offers education throughout the year, whether it’s through the bank’s monthly e-newsletter through presentations at schools or through bimonthly classes at the main branch, among other outreach activities.
For approximately 10 years, Central Bank has offered online banking and just this year, added e-statements.
“It’s a good thing for the environment and keeps their (personal banking) information from getting stolen out of a mailbox,” Cousineau said of
E-statements are free and give customers easy access to needed statements, especially during the tax season, she said.
“It’s convenient, safe and secure,” she said. “It’s less paper clutter, less chance of ID theft and it’s green.”